WLGA: Assembly government’s 2.8% rise for councils falls short

The Welsh Local Government Association has urged the Welsh assembly government to increase its proposed 2.8% council funding settlement after warning key services were being left to struggle.

In a response to the assembly’ government’s draft budget for 2009-10, WLGA leader John Davies warned cash-strapped social services departments, housing services and schools would be put under further pressure as the settlement remained well below the current 4.7% inflation rate.

He criticised ministers for proposing a poorer settlement for councils than the NHS, which has been promised a 5.3% rise.

Davies added: “It is totally bemusing that the assembly cabinet continues to treat local government as the ‘Cinderella’ of Welsh public services when all the evidence points to the fact that our services are central to the quality of life for our communities. More investment in local government services could reduce the demand for NHS services.”

Local government minister Brian Gibbons said that the 2.8% average increase in councils’ revenue support grant represented a £105m cash injection for 2009-10. He added: “I acknowledge that local government, along with all sections of society, is facing additional pressures from escalating energy costs and that difficult decisions will have to be made in budgeting for the coming year.”

Councils will hear what their individual settlement will be as the details of the draft budget are fleshed out next week.

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